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Deciding to Leave a Job…and Then What?

Deciding to Leave a Job…and Then What?

by Gail Schuster, LICSW, ACSW

‘Denise’, who is in her 40s, had worked with the same company for more than a decade. She had always considered herself fortunate to work in a supportive professional environment, where she was well compensated and performed work that had a positive impact on others. She had believed it highly likely she would remain with the same organization for her entire career.    

But lately, the office culture, and even its focus, had begun to change. The parts of her job she had found most meaningful, and most valuable, were no longer a priority. In the wake of recent personnel changes, she no longer felt a personal and professional bond with colleagues.  

‘Denise’ pursued counseling at CJFS because she wanted to process these changes and consider how she should move forward. Could she leave the company she had put so much into for so long? Should she attempt to find a new job in her field? Or even pursue a major career change?  

We hear a lot about the way the pandemic has changed the work environment. For some greater flexibility and remote work are a great fit for their lifestyle. For others, the lack of structure and disconnection from colleagues lowers productivity and creativity and impacts morale.

For ‘Denise’, the very philosophy that had grounded her to her organization was shifting. Through counseling, she ultimately concluded that her job no longer fulfilled her needs. 

She had always felt great loyalty to her colleagues and the organization where she worked. But in counseling, I helped her see that loyalty does not always mean staying. She was not, as she feared, “letting her co-workers down.” After all, she was still doing a great job. Her role at work had always been a central part of her identity. It is not “disloyal” to set boundaries and recognize when our own needs are not being met.  Through counseling ‘Denise’ realized that she had a responsibility to herself as well as to her employer.

For most people, deciding whether to leave a job that isn’t “perfect” requires thoughtfulness and introspection. After all, what in life is perfect? We need to weigh job security, or financial security, against personal satisfaction.  

As she began to assess her options, we explored the various scenarios she might encounter in a job search:  

  • Was she willing to move for a new position in her field? 
  • Could she take a cut in salary? 
  • If she could not find a job within her field that felt meaningful and met her other needs, what other career directions might be options? 

In counseling, I worked with ‘Denise’ to develop the tools to explore these issues and found clarity regarding what was most important to her. She felt empowered to put her own needs over the expectations of her colleagues, friends and loved ones.

She ultimately decided that her top priority was working for an organization within her field whose purpose and values matched her own—even if it meant she had to move to find it!


Counseling from CJFS is confidential, and it is often covered by insurance. 

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